AUGUSTA — Jury selection got underway Wednesday in a case involving a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of sexually abusing three girls and supplying one of them with marijuana.

In all, Kenneth L. Hatch III faces trial on 22 separate charges that are alleged to have occurred from September 1999 to January 2014 in Lincoln County. Opening statements are scheduled for Monday at the Capital Judicial Center, and the trial is expected to take seven days.

The judge told jurors to report at 9 a.m. Monday for the start of the trial.

Hatch pleaded not guilty to all the charges and remains free on bail. He remains on unpaid administrative leave from the sheriff’s office.

Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett said Wednesday via email, “The internal investigation is complete with, of course, the exception of the outcome of any criminal action against him.”

Bail conditions prohibit Hatch from contact with minor children except under special, pre-approved circumstances with authorized supervisors.

He was indicted in August 2016 in Knox County, and the case was transferred to Kennebec County for trial.

Seventeen of the charges list the name of one girl as the victim, three additional counts of sexual abuse of a minor involve a second victim, and a third victim is identified in connection with two charges of unlawful sexual contact. The victims were ages 14 to 18, according to the indictment.

Justice William Stokes made some rulings in the courtroom Wednesday while potential jurors were filling out questionnaires in a nearby room.

Stokes indicated he would sever the five charges that name two of the victims from the 17 charges that name the third victim because Hatch’s attorney indicated Hatch might testify on the former charges but not the latter.

However, Hatch’s attorney, Richard Elliott II, later withdrew the motion, saying it would not benefit his client after Stokes said the victim named in the 17 charges would be permitted to testify in the other case about whether “improper sexual behavior occurred in the cruiser of Mr. Hatch.”

Stokes said he concluded that was a common connection among the named victims.

Discussions in court Wednesday indicated that all but one of the events charged took place in the cruiser.

According to information in court documents, some of the alleged sexual abuse occurred on ride-alongs in Hatch’s cruiser.

Hatch, who was deputy of the year in 2015, worked in law enforcement for 17 years.

On Wednesday, Hatch and his attorney told the judge that Hatch had rejected the idea of taking any type of plea deal and that none had been offered.

The prosecutor is Assistant Attorney General John Risler, and the case was investigated by Peter Lizanecz, a detective in the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

Almost all the filings in the Hatch case have been kept under seal.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams